Innovation at JVS: Disability Employment

Innovation at JVS: Disability Employment

Transitions to Work Program

In 2011, JVS launched Transitions to Work (TTW) to address the employment opportunity gap facing young adults with disabilities who seek mainstream employment. The ultimate goal of TTW is to help young people with disabilities gain the skills they need to compete for high demand openings, on equal terms with peers without disabilities, while building their overall job readiness through training and internships.

TTW reverses the traditional approach to disability employment services by starting with the employer. JVS works with employers to analyze targeted jobs and identify the skills needed to succeed in those jobs. Our staff then design training programs which are held at employer sites to give participants necessary job-specific skills. Program participants take part in a supported internship where employer partners provide mentoring and training with ongoing job coaching services from JVS staff. After program completion, staff work with graduates to secure paid employment and support graduates and employers to ensure job retention.

Transitions to Work current employer partners include:

  • Hebrew Senior Life, with training in housekeeping and culinary arts, cashiering, restaurant services, steward services, delivery, and maintenance at its retirement community and healthcare facility, NewBridge On the Charles

  • CVS Health with retail and customer service training, using their CVS Regional Learning Center located on the 3rd floor of JVS’ downtown offices

  • Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, with patient transport and food service training

  • Boston Children’s Hospital, with training in patient support, food services, cleaning and maintenance at their animal research lab, and housekeeping services

  • Whole Foods Market in Medford, with various food service and retail training opportunities including those in prepared foods, bakery, produce department, grocery, and customer service.

Changing Workplace Culture

One of the greatest benefits of the Transitions to Work program is its proven ability to positively impact workplace culture. An independent evaluation conducted by the Institute for Community Inclusion (ICI) found that employees of TTW employer partners reported positive attitudes toward hiring people with disabilities, as well as a heightened sense of purpose and accomplishment, closer relationships and increased collaboration, changes in training practice and more positive attitudes towards work. The culture change experienced by these partner employers led almost everyone interviewed to believe that involvement in TTW had broadly affected and improved their jobs and places of work.


Since TTW began, JVS has run 35 training cycles with 6 major employers in 4 industry sectors. The Transitions training program completion rate (91%), placement rate (74%), 90 day retention rate (90%), and the one-year program retention rate is (78%) are higher than usual for services to populations with the level of disability served in the program. These impressive results can be attributed to the close partnerships JVS has developed with employers and to the strong support provided by JVS staff to program participants.

Program Partners

Transitions to Work is made possible through collaboration among Combined Jewish Philanthropies (CJP), the Ruderman Family Foundation, and JVS. This program is also funded in part by Boston Public SchoolsLiberty Mutual FoundationMassachusetts Rehabilitation Commission, and The Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family Foundation. Together with our employer partners, we’re working to help people with disabilities develop skills needed for employment and place them into jobs that provide earnings and a sense of purpose.

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